Welcome Home

“Welcome home.” After I was pulled off the wait list, the University’s acceptance letter fashioned itself in a way I didn’t. Yet Walker Percy insists that “there is no fashion so absurd, even grotesque, that it cannot be adopted, given two things: the authority of the fashion-setter (Dior, Jackie Onassis) and the vacuity or noughtness…

The End of an Era

With a smile on her face, I recently saw a bright young woman go straight to Professor David Solomon and hug him. I’ve seen this happen with many of Professor Solomon’s former students. They return to campus and light up when they see him, almost as if they are seeing their father after a long…

The Emotional Affair of John Paul II

A couple of years before he became Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla wrote to a Polish woman: “God gave you to me and made you my vocation.” The letter was one of more than 700 saved letters between he and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, a Polish-American philosopher he met in 1973. The year before Wojtyla’s…

So You Want to Write a Column…

I’ve written Observer columns for three years now. Some columns have received a lot of positive feedback, and some have — rightfully — endured considerable criticism. Writing for the Observer, or any paper, can be a great way to engage in the life of your community and to contribute to dialogue on a number of important issues….

My Friend the Carmelite

This fall, a friend began her life as a Carmelite nun. Becoming a cloistered nun is, in a way, like choosing your death. Though she’s just reached her mid-twenties, I may never see or hear from her again. She can only receive visitors a year after her entrance, six years after, and 25 and 50 after….

Catholic Theology and LGBTQ Suicide

Conversations about suicide can be awkward. A number of my friends have said that they don’t understand what would cause someone to make that decision. But there’s an answer within Catholic theology.

Love in the Landfill

My education at Notre Dame focused significantly on the ancient and medieval world. More than fifty of my 132 credits were on languages, cultures and ideas prior to the modern era, and these classes shaped the way I viewed my own life. I suspect the ways in which I lived and spoke were countercultural, not…

When I Was Kicked Out of My Dorm

I deserved it. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was a decision of retributive justice. I had broken the rules, and removal from my dorm was a reasonable response.

Why Look at Porn?

Notre Dame students look at porn. It’s just a fact. In 2013, I conducted a very informal survey of more than 400 Notre Dame students on pornography use. Sixty-three percent of men and 11 percent of women admitted to viewing porn while on campus. I don’t know entirely what to do with this fact. I don’t…

I Got a Tattoo

A philosophy professor once told me the truly adult decisions are the ones we make in the face of an unforeseen future. Maybe this is why for some a tattoo is a rite of passage. It marks a significant event, an obstacle overcome, a new beginning or a personal commitment. It marks a memory to…

Compliance Questions

The following column was published in the Irish Rover on Thursday, March 20, 2014.  On February 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held an oral argument in Notre Dame’s case against the HHS mandate. Among the more surprising moments was Judge Posner’s question to Notre Dame attorney Matthew Kairis, asking whether the use of birth control…

Pornography Use at Notre Dame

The following is an article by Erin Stoyell-Mulholland printed in Notre Dame’s Irish Rover in April 2013. It concerns a survey I completed earlier in the semester. I have reproduced it here and added charts from the survey.